Coon Rapids’ new Open for Business program starts

The city of Coon Rapids has launched its Open to Business program in partnership with the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers (MCCD).

The Coon Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) approved a one-year contract with MCCD in March.

Through the program, which provides technical and financial assistance to small business owners, Rob Smolund, MCCD enterprise facilitator, has office hours at the Coon Rapids City Center once a month for appointments and walk-ins.

The office hours will take place the third Tuesday of the month from 2 to 4:30 p.m. The first was in April at which three business owners met with Smolund.

“That was a good start,” said Matt Brown, city community development specialist.

According to Brown, the next office hours with Smolund will be Thursday, May 16 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. To make an appointment call 612-789-7337 extension 21 or email [email protected]

But interested business owners can set up appointments at other times by contacting MCCD, Brown said.

The Open to Business program provides assistance in financial management, loan packaging, business plan assistance, real estate analysis, marketing assistance, strategic planning, business regulations and professional referrals

The adviser also works with clients to help them find the financing that best meets their own unique needs.

And MCCD provides direct financing and loans in partnership with banks and nonprofit lenders. Funds can be used for inventory, working capital, asset and equipment purchases, real estate acquisition and start-up costs.

Direct loans range up to $25,000 for startups with larger loans/packages available for established business, according to the MCCD Open to Business brochure. Loan repayments are generally from three to five years.

According to Brown, the Open to Business program complements the city’s existing economic development efforts and addresses a market segment that is somewhat under-served by existing programs.

“This is an opportunity to help business owners with planning and organizing their business ideas, financial management, marketing, regulatory compliance and leasing or purchasing property,” Brown said.

The contract with MCCD costs $15,000 a year, which has come from the HRA budget, he said.

Under the contract, MCCD will provide quarterly reports to the city on use of the program and at the end of the year, the success of the program will be evaluated to determine if it should be continued, Brown said.